Homemaking Part 1

I am reading a wonderful inspirational book about homemaking titled The Life Giving Home. It really gives some great suggestions for making a house a home and making sure that the home environment you have created for your husband and children is one of warmth and relaxation and unconditional love and acceptance. There is so much from this book that I want to write about. Mostly good stuff. But I’m going to start out with a post about some aspects of the book I cannot relate to.

The book emphasizes making your home warm and hospitable for everyone who comes to stay or comes to visit. Almost no one comes to stay with us and we almost never have visitors. I am an introvert, but beyond that my husband is downright antisocial. When I want to have visitors over and do something social and welcome people in, he does not want to. So if I’m creating a good home environment for my family it will realistically be one that does not have the doors open to people who are outsiders. Pleasing my husband must come first and he does not want our home to be the center of any entertaining, at least not any entertaining that he has to be a part of.

I would like to have friends over now and then and I can when my husband is not home. But when he is home or if it is a couples activity it simply doesn’t work. But my husband accepts me with all my quirks, and I need to accept him as well. The most important thing is that I create a home that is beneficial for my husband and my daughter. My husband benefits most from having a place to retreat from the world and social interaction, and so I want to create a home filled with things that he loves to do and things that he likes to look at in order to create an environment of peace for him.

Someday, if I have the pleasure of becoming part of a creative community, I would like to be able to welcome other creatives in the my home and discuss books and art. I would like to provide finger foods and nice little drinks, and make my rather extensive library available to anyone who is interested. But I don’t know if I will ever be part of such community. It is so hard to meet people. And if I ever am, for the most part it would probably be best if I attended gatherings at other peoples’ houses unless my husband gave me the okay to hold some get-togethers at our house. Making my husband feel at ease in his house, making it a place that he enjoys coming home to and relaxing in, is priority number one. Essentially, making it a home for him is vital. So that is one type of advice in this book that I personally would have to say has to be ignored for some of us. Whatever you are doing to try to make a home you have to base it upon the needs of your individual family, and my husband needs a retreat from the world. He likes to come home to his loving family, and generally speaking, to no one else.

The other thing that strikes me is all the fancy Traditions that the writers of the book, a mother and daughter team, talk about as being important. Of course they suggest developing your own traditions but the amount of work and creativity and thought that goes into some of these things that they do is astounding. Some of them are easy things that I already do, like saying to read your children books. I already read my daughter books. But some of them are elaborate Valentine’s Day projects and elaborate meals and tons of decorating for the holidays. I like to decorate for the holidays a little bit. I do enjoy the holidays. But I have poor organizational skills and I don’t like to overload my house with supplies for any given holiday because then I have to cope with the anxiety of taking it all down and finding a place for it. As for fancy meals, we are people who order pizzas. I’m a horrible cook and my husband, who actually likes cooking, still prefers take out or eating out most of the time. I want my daughter to have fine memories of our meals together so I need to find a way to make them sweet and intimate without necessarily being Gourmet. I am thinking that we should make a habit of praying before meals when we eat out in public. I know about that verse that says not to pray in public like the Hypocrites but to keep your prayers private, but I don’t think that it applies to this as long as we’re praying quietly at our own table. And she and I cuddle a lot when we go out to lunch or dinner so we spend some good time together. When we eat at home I think it would be good to start eating at our lovely little dining room table more often. I want Angelica to have beautiful memories of family meals around that table.

I need to get more creative with the stuff that we do together, Angelica and I. But I am just not what you would call a Pinteresting person. Hand me a pile of popsicle sticks, construction paper, doilies, and watercolor paints and I’m just going to look at you with a confused expression in my eyes. So much of what these women suggest doing is very creative. And I consider myself a creative person. I am a poet. I write poetry all the time. And periodically I practice art. Soon I will be taking up abstract painting. But what I guess it comes down to is not that I’m not creative, but that I do not think like a child. I am not childlike at all. It’s just not in my nature. So I don’t look at kids craft supplies and think we could make this fun activity that would last all month long. I am horrible at coming up with stuff like that and to be honest I don’t really enjoy it. When Angelica gets old enough to tell me that she has developed particular interests of her own, I’m going to try to share in those interests with her so that we can bond. But as long as it’s all on me to come up with things I don’t think it’s going to happen. Plus I’m not sure how good the memories will be if we’re doing something that I actively dislike. I want to build fond memories for my daughter, but I also want to remember having a good time with her and if I have to spend hours preparing something I barely know how to prepare and making it awful at that, I feel like the memories will be marred. I feel like on some level she will know that I did not enjoy it and that I did not want to do it. Kids are perceptive that way. I’m hoping to involve her in things that I like to do, like painting and scrapbooking. I am thinking of starting a stamp collection and maybe she would want to do that. And of course like I said if there was something particular that she wants to I would be glad to do it with her. So if she decides that she wants to take up dance or tennis or softball, I will participate as much or as little as she wants. I will be at every recital and game. But I just don’t have it in me to come up with kids’ projects.

I do want to make sure though that Angelica is enjoying her childhood. I want to make sure this home is a place of joy for her as well. She has a lovely room with lots of toys and parents who adore her. Are there any memories I could make with her with my skill sets that might actually be special to her and that she would get something out of? That’s what I have to figure out and give some thought to as I go through this book. I will never be that crafty cutesy mom. I admire women who are that way but it just isn’t me. I have to design a home life where my family will grow and thrive, but I need to find a way to do it within the scope of who I am. I don’t know how to be anyone else. And it needs to be a restful Haven for everyone in the family, including me.

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Bisexual

I am a Christian. I am happily married to the man of my dreams. And I am bi.

I have never acted on this impulse, first because of my religious beliefs, secondly because of the sanctity of my marriage.

However, I am attracted to men and women. Strongly, to both. Just to clarify, I never look at my friends that way, so if we are friends just know I am not talking about you.

For a long time I would not even tell my husband about this. When I finally did, nervously, he said he figured as much. That relieved me and startled me. Was it that obvious? I wanted to keep it private, keep it secret.

Since then it turns out that I have been able to keep it hidden. My mother suspected something when she read a poem I wrote, but that’s it.

We live in a culture (in the United States) where various sexualities are accepted and even celebrated. As a Christian though, I simply cannot celebrate. I accept myself. It is not a sin to be bisexual, only to act on it. This is just how I am wired. I write poetry about it because I love beauty, and it gives me an outlet to express that part of myself without acting it out. But I cannot celebrate it.

It feels both nerve wracking and freeing to write this. I have been tired of locking away a part of myself, and denying part of my creative expression, out of shame or fear. I am who I am, and there should be a place for me in this culture, both as a bisexual and a bisexual Christian in particular.

More on this subject to come. I have many thoughts.

Little Friend 1

Yesterday we went to Lowe’s looking for an aerator. While we we were there we ended up walking through the garden section I fell in love with a type of flower, one in yellow and one in orange.  I’ll post the yellow one later.

These flowers are my new little friends! They are so cute and were so adoptable. I now have them potted and in front of the porch. I’ve actually never bought my own potted flower before. I love my little friends. I need to name them. I think the yellow one might be Sunshine (original, right?), but I’m not sure about this one.  Tangerine would be cute, but she isn’t really the color of a tangerine. She is so fiery, like the sun. Maybe I will name her Corona. Wait, that goes together! Sunshine and Corona! And they are sisters!

I’m so happy!

Eternal Life

So many things leave us unsatisfied, disappointed, wanting more. Sometimes that is just the result of greed and avarice. But sometimes it is because things or people really have been disappointing. Sometimes friends disappoint us. Everyone has that ex-friend who is out of their lives for a very good reason. Sometimes even our own families disappoint us. Sometimes our relationships with them leave us wanting more, leave us coping with hurt or disappointment or even rage. Some of them mean to fail us. Some don’t.

God never fails. God never disappoints. His love is unfailing. God is reliable. His Word slakes a thirst that water (or an ice cold Coke!) never could. God does no wrong – to anyone. His ways are righteous. He does things for our good, not to harm us.  When you can’t count on your family or friends or coworkers or whoever to do right by you, you can count on your just God.

Friendships change. People betray us, the drift away from us, they let us down. Family cannot always be counted on.  Sometimes other people, even those we are close to, are bitter, vindictive, controlling, petty, selfish, dishonest,manipulative, and mean spirited. But the one constant in life, in my life, is God. He gives me things I can’t get anywhere else – unconditional love, grace, peace.

Diet, Freedom, Clock

As of the Saturday before last, I have been on a serious diet! I lost six pounds in 8 or 9 days. I love my diet because it is based purely on the idea of calorie deficit. No going to the gym, which I hate. No taking long walks, which hurts horribly because of my bad foot, although if someone ever fixes my foot I’ll be taking five mile walks every day in no time. I don’t have to give up any foods that I really like. I just have to eat much less of them. I take in 1,000 calories a day most days, occasionally going up to 1200 or 1300 for a special meal out or just to keep my metabolism up. It’s great because I’m realizing I actually feel better and more awake when I eat less. And I’m not missing any foods or drinks. I can have a cup of juice or a Soda Stream soda. I just have to deduct it from my daily calorie count on the MyFitnessPal app. I love that app. The only function I really use is the calorie counter, but it is so useful. It has the calorie content of many foods in its database, so you can usually just search for something and the calories will pop right up, even for many restaurants. And even when they don’t have the specific brand or restaurant, you can find the general, approximate calorie count by searching for the generic name of the food.

I really hope the weight loss continues. I’m on a diet for several reasons. The first, and what inspired me to start last week,  is clothes. I ordered some beautiful dresses from a British company I love, and of the six that I bought only two fit. That lit a fire under my ass! Fundamentally, I don’t mind my weight. But I love clothes and when I can’t fit in clothes it is time to lose weight. Especially since these were not small clothes. They were size 18.

Another benefit is that losing weight makes me less likely to have a flare up of diverticulitis again and end up with another hole in my intestines and another major surgery. Not to mention the misery of wearing a colostomy bag. Doctors aren’t sure why extra weight contributes to diverticulitis, but studies have shown that it does.

Anyways, wish me luck. So far it is going really well. I hope it doesn’t stop.

FREEDOM! The outpatient program was a good, supportive program. Peak View, at least the outpatient side, is good. I finished last Friday. But when Monday morning rolled around and I realized my time was my own and I could stay home with Angelica I was thrilled. It is so nice to have my mornings and my days free. I’m free! I’m free!

Craig bought a grandmother clock at a local furniture store and it got delivered and assembled this morning. Craig loves it. I’ll admit it is a good looking clock, but that constant chiming is going to take some real getting used to. I hope it ends up feeling homey and serene, rather than being an annoyance.

Waiting on God, Trusting in God

I picked up this awesome devotional by Elizabeth George at the Exchange. “One Minute With the Women of the Bible” has tiny readings and thoughtful questions about what we can learn from various women in the Bible, including those who are not named. One of the entries (I like this book so much I can’t wait and just read it day by day!) is about when God changed Sarah’s name from Sarai to Sarah. When God changes someone’s name in the Bible it is like a promotion, like they have developed and changed to a new being.

She names five things Sarah did to grow and to “earn” her name change. And then she asks us readers to rate ourselves in those five categories. Today I am going to write about a couple of hard ones. Trusting in God and waiting on God. Both are difficult.

Do I trust God? Do I wait on His timing and accept it with thanksgiving? I’ve always been very strong willed, strong back boned, and determined to make things happen for myself wherever possible. And much of that is a good thing. Just because God provides doesn’t mean He wants us sitting on our butts, passively waiting for something to happen. So to a certain extent is good to be a go getter. Yet it is also vital to be willing to wait on God’s timing. For instance, I have been rather passionately looking at a worship arts program at a seminary in Dallas. Most of the program is online, but the last year of it, the year with the creative classes, are held in Dallas instead of online. I have wracked my brain trying to figure out how I could go, but after careful consideration and an honest look at the logistics, I concluded that there was no way I could go without splitting up the family. There is no way to guarantee that Craig’s deployment will run from August to May, and I’m not leaving my husband or separating him from his child during the time he does have at home. So unless something radically changes, I cannot do seminary. I will not abandon my family responsibilities. That is wrong. So I have to accept that if it is God’s will that I go to seminary, he will make a righteous path for me to go with my family. If He doesn’t, then His answer is no.

We have this common misconception in our culture that if we pray to God for something and we don’t get it, He didn’t answer our prayers. But the truth is, He did answer. He said no. We don’t get everything we want. God’s plans are greater than ours.

Sometimes even when we feel called and created for a specific purpose, we have to wait on God and trust in his timing. As pretty much everyone knows, I am a poet. But how and when my work reaches the world is up to the Lord. It is so hard to trust in His ways and His timing. I am so ambitious, so determined to have worldly success. My visions just pour out on the page and I polish them and then long to present them to the world like a gift. I really believe they are meant to be read, but whether or not that happens is up to God. My creativity and visions come from Him, and what they are used for and by whom is up to Him. If He intends for me to have 10 books published, I will be grateful and say “Praise God.” If He elects that my writing is meant for a small community only, I must say “Praise God. His works are good.”

Being strong willed all the time is not a good thing. I try to be less strong willed and more submissive to my husband, which is good and Biblical and right. (However, I am still not a doormat.) But with everyone and everything else I can be pretty strong willed. It is one of my strengths and one of my weaknesses. On one hand, I do not roll over for anyone. And Christ needs people in the kingdom who will stand up and proclaim his word without watering it down, without shame, and without apology. Besides, He wouldn’t have made me an independent thinker with a strong personality if He did not intend for me to be one. Everyone’s unique personality and gifts are needed in the body of Christ. On the other hand, sometimes we need to pray and trust God to bring us where we need to be. Not everything can be done through the sheer force of will power. I need to be better about praying for things I need and want. There is no such thing as praying too much, and if there was I’m sure I’m nowhere near that cap! And honestly, when I pray I usually thank God for things that I have, and pray for the needs of other people. That is great. We should give thanks to God and we should lift others up in prayer. But to really follow God, we need to take our own troubles and needs and wishes to Him. I have failed at this.

I am always willing to fight the good fight (and if I’m honest, to fight in general. I love to debate, especially a good, intelligent debate with logic, Scripture, science, or facts. And I always stand up for myself, even when maybe I should let things go). But sometimes we are supposed to let go and let God. Some fights we cannot win. Some fights we should not fight. I don’t think a good intellectual debate is wrong, but some people are incapable of those. They either are not intelligent and/or couldn’t form a cogent argument if their souls depended it.

And sometimes, when people do us wrong, it is best not to fight and to trust God to help us forgive and to deal with that person. All of us will be held accountable for our sins, including me, and those who have wronged me will be hearing about it from God. I have always had a passion for justice and righting of wrongs, but the truth is in many cases that is just out of our hands. So you trust God to make things right, if not in this life then in the next. You should pursue justice where you can, but also be willing to stand back and trust God.

Sometimes I worry about how we’ll do when Craig retires from the Navy, or how my Bipolar struggles will be in ten or twenty years and whether or not they will get worse. I worry about how degraded our culture will be by the time my daughter is grown and how will she find a good Christian man to settle down with and how will she have any friends. But I must trust that when I cannot take care of my daughter, that Jesus will. That somehow, he will make a way for her. That she will be able to find a community of believers and a good husband and have a good life, no matter how foul and degraded our culture gets.

I need to wait on God. I need to trust God.

Chasing Accolades

All my life I have been ambitious. My ambitions have changed a few times, but I always have them. Being a wife and mother was always on my list of goals, but I have always avoided the thought that motherhood might be my only job. How we define ourselves as women has changed over the past 40 years, and now many women don’t derive enough satisfaction from their own lives. They need careers and ministries and awards and promotions to feel full, to feel satisfied.

I have given up my goals of becoming a professor and of being the worship arts leader at a church, but I still have dreams. I long to get a second chapbook published, as well as a full length book of poetry. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with dreams and ambitions. But my fulfillment and satisfaction should come from my God-ordained roles as wife and mother. I am reading a book called Girl Defined. For the most part it is written for younger women, a book I will save for my daughter. But in it the authors do pose some interesting questions that have given me much to ponder.

Why do I feel so strong a need to get published, and how will I feel if I don’t get published? If my poetry is good it is good whether anyone publishes it or not. If my poetry is bad it is bad whether anyone publishes it or not. And there have been many good poets that went unpublished and there have been many bad poets published.  Most importantly, I can enjoy writing poetry whether anyone publishes me or not.

Poetry is an act of  communication, so it is natural to want readers. But I have my blog for that, and I value each and every visitor and comment.

But underneath a healthy desire for communication with other people, is a culturally instilled sense of inferiority. In our culture it is not enough to be a wife and mother. Rather than being purely motivated to share my art as an act of sharing beauty with the world, I am also motivated by competitiveness, and a deep-seated need for worldly approval. In someone who is not a Christian, such an attitude can lead to messed up priorities and low self esteem. Ditto for Christians, but it is also completely unacceptable. Our highest calling (with the exception of childless women or women gifted with singleness) is as wives and mothers. Being a wife is enough. Being a mother is enough.

It is fine for women to have ambitions. It is okay to have hopes and dreams outside family life. But family life should always come first, and any ambitions should be held up to careful scrutiny. Does this goal glorify God? Am I striving for this to share beauty or wisdom or knowledge with the world, or to exalt myself? Accolades are not bad, but should never be the goal.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is that it’s okay to have dreams for the future as long as those dreams for the future don’t arise from dissatisfaction with the present. In all things we are supposed to give thanks to God. My problem is that I am chasing satisfaction where I should not be. I should be wholly grateful for my life at home with my family. I should not let the world’s definition of success define me.

Park, Patio, Planes

Today was a positive, busy day. We started off our day going to the museum on base. It is an aviation museum and had several planes, including one that we got to go in and explore. We also got to go into the original hangar from when this base was just a regional airport owned by Colorado Springs. There were all sorts of exhibits and it was very technical but still interesting.

 

I took Angelica to the park with my next door neighbor A and her son Matthew. This is the third time since we’ve moved in that Angelica has gotten to play with another kid. It makes me so happy to see her interacting with her peers and having fun. Where we used to live in Moyock Angelica never had anyone to play with and the neighborhood was really lacking in amenities. There were no playgrounds or parks. Here they are all over the place (we even have a neighborhood splash pad and skate park) and Angelica has so many places to play, and I have been meeting people. I hope to get involved with the base chapel and go to some Bible studies.

Learning to play is definitely a work in progress though. I noticed that today when Angelica was playing with Matthew, and I noticed that last night when Angelica was playing with R’s son. She gets upset with other kids easily and doesn’t always know how to go with the flow. In typical only child fashion she also runs off by herself a lot. She’s never really had the opportunity to be around a lot of kids. She’s never gone to preschool. She doesn’t have any siblings. She hasn’t gone to an in-home daycare in a long time and cried and begged to be kept at home when she did last go to one. Angelica always longs for other kids to play with but until we moved here it didn’t seem like she was going to have very many opportunities. Here I am working on making friends for both her and me and it seems like she will have more kids her age to play with. We met another mother today who has a daughter who is also named Angelica, and we met another neighbor with a little girl named Piper. Then I am making a couple of new friends out in town and they have kids her age. I am still trying to get us plugged in but it seems like there is so much more Community here.

While we were at the park Craig put together our new patio dining set we bought at the Exchange a few days ago. It is red, which I love, and super comfy.  It has six chairs, a glass table, and an umbrella. We have a big covered back porch here and I want our next project to be getting a patio sofa. We have room out there for both.

Prairie, Mountains, Weed Dispensaries

So much has happened since I last had time to write. We left our little yellow Cottage behind and drove across the country from the Eastern seaboard to the Rocky Mountains to start a new life in Colorado. Along the way we got beautiful views of Appalachia, got a tour of the Midwest, stayed the night in Kansas City and hung out with one of my dearest friends, and drove across the beautiful Prairie of Kansas. By the way, Kansas is not completely flat. There are some really pretty hills. The trip was very taxing and my nerves were shot by the end of it but I really got to see a lot of this beautiful country.

Now I have arrived in the most beautiful leg of the journey, the end of it. Colorado Springs is really cool because it’s right where the Prairie meets the Rocky Mountains. So if you look one direction you have gorgeous mountain vistas and if you look the other way you see the sweeping vast Prairie. Our house has both. If you look out the master bedroom window or the beautiful window over the master bath or the window from the craft room and office there is a picture perfect view of Pikes Peak, Cheyenne Mountain, and others. It’s breathtaking. Especially when you watch the mist and fog and clouds roll over the Peaks. Out the front windows at the house we can see the Airfield in the prairie between our neighbors houses and we can see for miles.

Our house has a formal living room, a formal dining room, built-in desks upstairs and downstairs, four bedrooms, several closets, and a huge laundry room with a deep sink and a counter for folding clothes. The bedrooms are smaller than they were at our little yellow cottage but they are still a good size and the house overall is pretty big. I really love our new home.

The neighborhood has playgrounds everywhere for Angelica and even has a splash pad she can play on in the summer. I really like military housing. It is nice and spacious and has a lot of amenities. I also like the sounds of revelry and taps, the music that they play in the morning and in the evening and at 10 at night. It is soul stirring to lay in bed and hear it. It is something unique to military life. It’s something I think Angelica will remember from her childhood after spending three years here. We will be here until she is 7 years old. I think it’s a unique little memory that she’ll be glad to have.

Craig and I have begun to explore Colorado Springs a little bit in between getting our stuff and moving in. We’ve only been here a couple of days so we don’t really know our way around but we’ve done some driving. And all I can say is wow. There are a lot of weed dispensaries. Like it’s ridiculous. They are all over the place. How much weed do these people buy?

The weed dispensaries are what really stand out in town. I’ve never been any place like this. I’ve never been any place it was legal to sell weed, let alone that there were so many places doing it. But beyond that there’s a quaint little area of downtown with interesting little shops that I think it would be fun to explore on a warmer weather day. We’ve only been to a few restaurant so far but it seems like there’s a lot of International Food here so Craig should like that. Personally I’m not culinarily adventurous so it’s not really my thing but I will go for Craig. Overall though, in spite of the fact the town is really spread out, I would say it looks like there’s less shopping here. Also, everything closes early here. Shops and things downtown are closed by 6 or 7 or earlier. The base exchange is way smaller than what I’m used to in Norfolk, which of course I expected since Norfolk has the biggest Exchange in the world. But still it was quite shocking to see the difference. However I can still get my makeup at this Exchange. And I got some beautiful decorative eggs for Easter.

I have more to write about these are just some initial Impressions. I’m glad to be back to blogging.